Cliffe Park Hall, at the north end of the lake, was built by John Haworth and his cousin, the Reverend James Bostock, in 1811 at a cost said to be £25,000. On the death of John Haworth in 1831, it passed to his cousin Fanny Bostock. During her ownership of the hall, she brought legal actions and obtained injunctions against the North Staffordshire Railway (brought to Rudyard in 1850) to try to prevent their popularisation of the lake and reduce the influx of visitors by rail that they encouraged. Fanny Bostock died in 1875 whereupon the Cliffe Park estate was split up. The Reverend Edward Boothman, the husband of Fanny Bostock’s niece, bought the hall and some of its land and buildings for £14,250 with the remaining land being sold off in smaller plots. These sales were largely responsible for the development of land around the lake as it is today.
In 1904, the NSR purchased Cliffe Park Hall with the intent of constructing a golf course on the land between the hall and the lake. Whilst it was intended to demolish the hall and build a new club house, the money for this was not forthcoming with only changing rooms and locker rooms being added to the existing building. A new railway station to serve the course was built at the north end of the lake. The golf course, enlarged from nine holes to eighteen in 1908, closed in 1926 probably due to the general post-war conditions and reduced train services together with the availability of newer golf courses more easily accessed from the local towns.
Cliffe Park Hall was then let privately until 1933 when its then current owners, London Midland and Scottish Railway (NSR’s successors), leased it to the Youth Hostels Association and was known as Rudyard Lake Hostel.
George Orwell wrote a diary when travelling in the area:
Found hostel, about 1 mile further on, with difficulty. Alone again. A most peculiar place this time. A great draughty barrack of a house, built in the sham-castle style – somebody’s Folly – about 1860. All but three or four of the rooms quite empty. Miles of echoing stone passages, no lighting except candles and only smoky little oilstoves to cook on. Terribly cold.
Only 2/8d left, so tomorrow must go into Manchester (walk to Macclesfield, then bus) and cash cheque.
Distance walked, 12 miles. Spent on conveyances 1/8. On food, 2/8.
Got out of bed so cold that I could not do up any buttons and had to [go] down and thaw my hands before I could dress. Left about 10.30 am. A marvellous morning. Earth frozen hard as iron, not a breath of wind and the sun shining brightly. Not a soul stirring. Rudyard lake (about 1½ miles long) had frozen over during the night. Wild ducks walking about disconsolately on the ice. The sun coming up and the light slanting along the ice the most wonderful red-gold colour I have ever seen. Spent a long time throwing stones over the ice. A jagged stone skimming across ice makes exactly the same sound as a redshank whistling.
The hall was sold to private buyers in 1969.